Live It

By your endurance you will gain your lives. – Luke 21:19

As Jesus and His disciples approached the end of His physical days on earth, their conversation turned toward the establishment of the Messiah’s earthly kingdom. It seemed that the increasing agitation of the religious rulers coupled with Jesus’ own comments about His impending death caused great uncertainty in the minds and hearts of these men.

Speaking in general terms of the last days, Jesus reminded His closest followers that the proof of their faith would be seen in their steadfast commitment to God’s purposes.  Our Lord would later echo this truth to the Apostle John in each of His seven letters to the seven churches, repeating this phrase, “To him who overcomes.” Saints, those who have been converted by the blood of Christ and made new creatures by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, persevere.

One of the indelible marks of a Christ-follower is his or her endurance in suffering and trial, but that endurance is also seen in the simple, day-by-day, moment-by-moment decisions to just keep doing life God’s way. Today is another opportunity. Take it. Endure it. Live it for Jesus.

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do. – Helen Keller

What Are We Doing Here?

Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” – 1 Kings 19:9

After Elijah’s victorious showdown on Mt. Carmel with the pagan prophets of Baal, he ran away. Jezebel, the idolatrous wife of King Ahab, wanted Elijah’s head and he chose to keep it on his shoulders by running for cover. Eventually, Elijah found a cave in which to hide, from everyone that is, but God.

As He had done with Adam, God never asked where Elijah was, but rather why he was hiding. Elijah’s task as God’s mouthpiece (His prophet) was to publicly proclaim His truth. He could not accomplish this task by hiding in a cave; but then again, neither can we.

To accomplish Christ’s great commission, we must leave our decorated “sanctuaries” and secure homes, no matter the dangers that lie outside and it makes me wonder, could it be that God is currently asking His Church, “What are you doing here?”

Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is. – George Mueller

Supreme

But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?” – Luke 23:40

It would seem to me that a death row inmate would not need to be reminded of what lies in his or her future. The crime has been committed, judgment has been pronounced, all that remains is the carrying out of the sentence. Death is inevitable. The only hope for a person on death row is the existence of a judge who might overturn the previous sentence, a “supreme” judge who has the power to pardon.

Two criminals hung on crosses next to Jesus. One was blind to Christ’s identity and hurled insults, but the other could “see” who was hanging next to him and begged for mercy. One thief received eternal freedom, but the other remained eternally condemned. What was the difference?

The man who begged for mercy saw Jesus and believed that He was and is “Supreme.”

He came the first time to die; He is coming again to raise the dead. When He came the first time, they questioned whether He was King; the next time the world will know that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. The first time He wore a crown of thorns; the next time He will be wearing a crown of glory. The first time He came in poverty; the next time He is coming in power. The first time He had an escort of angels; the next time He will come with tens of thousands of His saints. The first time He came in meekness; He is coming again in majesty. – Adrian Rogers

A Double Portion

When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” – 2 Kings 2:9

Elisha (the prophet-elect) had walked with Elijah (God’s prophet) for some time before they came to the moment of Elijah’s rapture. As they traveled to the place of that miraculous departure, Elisha twice asked Elisha to turn around, but his protégé would not. When asked by Elijah what it was that he wanted, Elisha simply requested a double portion of that which he had seen in his mentor, God’s powerful presence.

The Holy Spirit remains an attractive presence in the life of a Christ-follower today, as long as His presence remains evident. Supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control will almost always amaze those who do not know our Savior. Yet, we will only be effective in our witness for Christ, if He is seen in how we live. Perhaps then someone may even ask us for some of what we possess.

The good news in times like these is this, never have the qualities of Christ been so needed and never have they been so easily observable!

Be filled with the Spirit and you’ll never run out of gas. – Woodrow Kroll

Read, Hear, or See the Word

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” – Luke 24:45-47

Many times, in my ministry I have encountered people who tell me that they have difficulty understanding what they read in their Bible. As I have investigated the reasons, certain conclusions have been drawn.

First of all, the translation a person uses may be archaic. What might have been a dynamic work in the 1600’s can be very difficult to understand in the 21st century. Certain words and phrases fall out of use and need to be replaced. Good, accurate, modern English translations exist and may be more easily understood. This simple change has often helped a person get into the Word of God in order that it might get into him.

The other conclusion I have drawn is that some lack the interpreting presence of the Holy Spirit Himself. The disciples who followed Christ physically and personally could not understand the Scriptures until He “opened their minds.” I have seen many people suddenly begin to comprehend the biblical writings upon conversion. The sanctified understanding of who Christ is serves as a translator illuminating the great truths of God’s Word.

So, if you struggle to understand the Scriptures, the solution is simple. Seek the Lord, obtain a Bible you can read (if you can see), hear (if you can hear), or see (the Word now exists in ASL!), and get understanding.

God has condescended to become an author, and yet people will not read His writings. There are very few that ever gave this Book of God, the grand charter of salvation, one fair reading through. – George Whitefield